Kody Davies dropped but bounces back to beat Zak Chelli

Kody Davies dropped but bounces back to beat Zak Chelli

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

By Dewi Powell: Pontllanfraith’s light-heavyweight Kody Davies (10-0, 3KO) was knocked down for the first time but rallied back to win against Zak Chelli (7-1, 3KO) in a battle of unbeaten prospects.

Three English judges favoured Davies with unanimous 96-94, 96-93, 97-92 scorecards after 10 tense and tactical rounds at London’s iconic York Hall. Davies’ appearance in the British title eliminator came in the away corner and the 25-year-old’s recovery against hometowner Chelli must have impressed promoter Frank Warren.

After the duo patiently waited in the opener, Davies edged forward with more intent in the second round. A straight southpaw left forced Chelli to the corner and troubled awaited Davies as he rushed forward with another attack. Chelli, a recent Southern Area champion at the weight below, uncorked a cracking uppercut that Davies didn’t see coming. The Welshman sunk to the floor, quickly rising to protest the referee’s count. It was worth a go.

“I got tagged early on,” said Davies afterwards to the BT Sport commentary team. “I pretended I tripped over, but I didn’t trip over. I got caught and I thought I needed to change something.”

Davies, equipped with a newfound respect for Chelli’s power, still didn’t shy away from exchanges in the third and fourth rounds. Instead, he just stayed disciplined when committing to attacks. Both boxers attempted to trigger the other and Davies did it better, using feints to gain position on the front foot. Davies was clearly effective in the fifth round and he kept Chelli reversing from corner to corner. Speedy flurries occupied Chelli’s attention and Davies dropped long left crosses into exchanges to make a deeper dent in his opponents’ defence.

Appearing to have gotten a measure of Chelli’s extra-wide stance, Davies frequently managed to dart into range and make his notable size advantage count. His enthusiasm seemed to sap Chelli’s energy at the halfway mark. Trainer Gavin Rees, a former domestic and world champion, beckoned Davies on and Chelli’s attempts to hold for a rest drew attention from referee Ian John Lewis. Meanwhile, mentor and legend Joe Calzaghe literally waved encouragement from ringside.

Davies didn’t overcommit again and another long left cross badly stunned Chelli, who took advantage of a borderline low blow to gain a one-minute break during the sixth round. From this point on, Davies marched forward with wave after waves of controlled attacks. The momentum was set and all Davies had to do was avoid Chelli’s rationed pot shots on his way in.

The eighth round was quieter and Davies even asked Chelli to engage, a sign that the momentum wouldn’t shift again. Perhaps Davies wondered if Chelli was saving his energy for a big finish but it was easily handled when it came, albeit leading to a handful of messy clinches in the final round. The victory against Chelli should’ve put Davies in line to contest the British title, which was expected to be vacated by 2016 Olympic medalist Joshua Buatsi.

“The options are all open at super-middleweight and light-heavyweight,” smiled Davies at ringside with interviewer Ronald McIntosh.

“I’ve proven myself at super-middleweight already. I’ve sparred with some of the best in the world and put one of them on their backside, so I know I can mix it there.

“I could see Zak fading and it takes something mentally to see when somebody is on the fade,” he said in assessment of the performance. “I knew I was going to catch him sooner or later. I probably messed around a little bit too much, but that’s just what I do.”

Prevailing in a battle of unbeaten prospects was an important step for Davies, though he kept perspective by kissing his glove and touching the top of his trunks shortly after the scorecards were announced. ‘Jade’ was the word adorned in teal sequins on Davies’ waistband. It was a tribute his older sister, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly months earlier. Davies is now dedicating his boxing career to Jade’s memory, which was kept alive by her brother’s strength in the spotlight.

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Image by Huw Fairclough.

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